Have you ever considered what it might be like to become a professional speaker? In this episode, Camille welcomes Grant Baldwin, the CEO of The Speaker Lab, whose mission is to give speakers clarity, confidence, and a clear path to make an impact. He is also a best-selling author and the host of The Speaker Lab podcast.
Grant shares his journey starting out as a youth pastor and then starting a speaking business with limited resources. He shares an overview of the SPEAK framework that they use in teaching clients and his advice on dealing with speaking anxiety and how to establish a successful speaking career.
If you have something that you’re passionate about and want to share where you could change other people’s lives, tune into this episode to hear Grant’s tips and tricks on how you too can become a professional speaker in any field you can imagine.
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GRANT BALDWIN [0:00]
The challenge here for so many speakers is that we want to make this as broad and vague as possible. And so, who do I speak to? I don’t know. I speak to people. I speak to humans. My message is for everybody. It’s like let’s narrow it down. Okay. I speak to females. That’s still half the world’s population. So, it’s really difficult to narrow it down because we think we need to be able to speak to as many people as possible.
And the same thing is true whenever it comes to what you speak about or what problem do you solve. So, sometimes I’ll ask speakers, “What do you speak about?” And they say, “What do you want me to speak about? I can speak about anything. I can speak about entrepreneurship or podcasting or parenting or marriage or family or faith,” or on and on the list goes. And it’s like but really? Can you speak on all these different things?
CAMILLE WALKER [0:48]
So, you want to make an impact. You’re thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We’ll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.
Have you ever considered what it might be like to become a professional speaker? Is there something that you have to share that you feel so passionate about that you feel like you have a story or concept or education that you could share where you could change other people’s lives?
I feel like becoming a public speaker is something that many of us have considered doing, but we don’t know exactly where or how to get there. So, that is why Grant Baldwin is here with us today from The Speaker Lab who’s going to be talking to you about how you too can become a professional speaker in any field you can imagine. So, let’s get started.
Welcome back everyone to Call Me CEO. This is Camille Walker, your host. And today, I’m with Grant Baldwin, who is the CEO of The Speaker Lab. He helps you take your story and turn it into profit and turn it into something where you can story tell and share all over the world because now, people are doing it virtually and in-person and I cannot wait to dive into this.
So, you know that I very rarely take on a male guest. And so, this is a special day. And I know that Grant’s going to help us out a lot because here’s the thing. I have noticed, and Grant, I’m going to turn this over to you a little bit, and thank you so much for being here, I have not seen as many women speakers as I do see paid men speakers. And I don’t know why that is. I’m guessing you have some insight on that, but thank you for being here on the show. And I can’t wait to dive into this topic with you.
Yeah. Thanks for letting me hang out with you. I really appreciate it. We were talking just a second ago before we stated recording, I’m married to my high school sweetheart. We have three daughters. So, I’m in a house full of women. It’s just me and the dog, we’re hanging on to it. So, hanging out with you and a bunch of moms, I feel right at home. So, this is awesome and I’m excited to hang out with you and talk to you guys, speaking all things speaking and we’re going to cover today.
No. I love to hear the background of how you got in what it is that you do and how you’ve made it such a massively successful career. You’re a bestselling author. You have your podcast. You also have your community of all of these thousands of people that you’ve helped. So, how did you get started in this business?
Yeah. So, if we go way back in time, in high school, I was really involved in my local church and my youth pastor had a really big impact on my life. And that was the trajectory I was on. I was like I want to do that. That seems like a really cool gig. I felt like if I can make the impact in other’s lives that he made in my life, that just seemed incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
And so, I actually went to bible college. I worked at different churches as a youth pastor for a little while. And there were parts that I liked, parts that I didn’t like. But the thing I really enjoyed was I really enjoyed speaking. Speaking was one of those things I felt like I was decent at and I had a lot of bats and practice speaking at church on a weekly basis. And I wanted to do more of it, but I just didn’t really know how do you get started?
And I had a lot of the questions that maybe you or your audience has sked, things like how do you find gigs and what do you speak about? Who hires speakers? And how much do you charge? And how does this mysterious industry work? How does this happen? And so, at the time, this was about 17 years ago or so, there wasn’t really any podcasts or books or resources on the topic. And so, I found myself just emailing, harassing, stalking other speakers and just like, “Hey,” pick your brain type stuff and just trying to learn some stuff and was able to learn a few things and book a few gigs and eventually, some more gigs and more gigs and got to a point where I was doing about 60 or 70 paid speaking gigs a year.
And it was awesome. I was having a blast travelling all over the US and had a lot of people who were asking me like, “Hey, I want to do that. I would love to be a speaker. How would I do that?” And so, started doing some coaching, training around that. And then, about six years ago, so we started The Speaker Lab, which is what we do today, which as you said, we work with speakers teaching them basically the ins and outs of the speaking industry and specifically how do you get booked and paid to speak with your message?
And so, yeah, that’s what we do today is work with speakers with all different ages, stages of life. We work with speakers in every US state, 49 different countries around the world, all different subjects, topics, industries. There’s just massive amounts of opportunities for speakers.
And so, I know for a lot of people who may be interested, one of the things I like about speaking is it is the type of thing that you could certainly do full-time. There are speakers that do 50, 75, 100 gigs a year and it’s fine. But there may be some of your audience who’s listening who’s like, “I’m a stay-at-home mom or I’m a busy mom and I don’t want to be on the road 50, 75, 100 nights a year. I’d love to do 5 gigs or 10 gigs. I’d love to do some stuff locally or maybe virtually.” Again, how do I find those? What do I speak about? And who hires me? How does this world work? And so, yeah, there are amazing, amazing opportunities for speakers that exist right now.
Kudos to you for bringing it online. I can’t imagine how much that has affected the world at large and also for your business to be able to be at home and spend more time with your family. So, that’s really cool that you’re bringing this message and helping so many.
Yeah. I still speak some but not nearly as much as I used to, but when I was speaking full-time, one of the things that I would speak a lot about was this idea that who you are is more important than what you do. Who you are is more important than what you do, meaning if we are great podcasters, if we’re great speakers, if we’re great entrepreneurs, if we’re great fill-in-the-blank at whatever it is that we do and obviously, generally in a professional sense, but if we drop the ball as husbands, as wives, as moms, as dads, as sons, as daughters, as human beings, if we’re this shell of a person, we’re doing it wrong.
And so, I tell our team internally all the time that, listen, I love being an entrepreneur. I love being a business owner. I love being a speaker. I love the things that I get to do, but my most important roles by far hands down is being a great husband and being a great dad to my girls. And so, my wife, she had a choice, but she was stuck with me at this point. My three daughters did not have a choice. They’re stuck with me.
And so, I want to be the best possible husband, the best possible dad that I can be. And so, I don’t think it’s an either/or thing. I think you can have your cake and eat it too. I think I can be successful in business and I can lead a good company and I can make an impact with our team members, our employees, the speakers that we work with, and I can also be a good husband and I can be a good father and I can have both.
But you have to be massively intentional about that because typically, it swings to one side or the other, but as entrepreneurs, you get to design the rules of the game. And so, you get to decide what it looks like for you. And so, you may see someone else doing it and you’re like, “That doesn’t work. That doesn’t resonate with me.” But they’re playing a different game. They’re playing different rules than what may make sense for you. And that’s okay. And you may see someone on the other end of the spectrum and they’re not doing nearly as much. They could be doing so much more. That’s okay. They’re playing a different game. And so, you get to design the rules for what makes sense for you and your life and what it is that you want to do.
Yes. I think we could end the podcast right there because I’m over here nodding like the power of “and” that you don’t have to do this or the other, but really designing what works for you, which has always been my methodology for everything I’ve ever done here sharing online. So, thank you for sharing that. I feel like we’re very likeminded in that way.
So, let’s dive into just where do people start? Let’s say that I have an idea of something I want to share or even what if I don’t even know that I want to share, but that I would love to speak. I know that that’s an even tricker question because that’s so individually-based, which again, not many people love to speak publicly. It’s a rare breed.
I think of that Seinfeld where he tells the story of when polled, the average person would rather at a funeral be the one in the casket than the one giving the eulogy. It just goes to say that speaking can be terrifying for some and there are some who love it. So, let’s say that I love it or let’s say that I want to learn to love it and I’m at the point where I want to be profitable with speaking. What are your bits of advice for getting started?
Yeah. And so, why don’t we do this? What we do inside The Speaker Lab with all of our students is we walk them through what we call the speaker success roadmap. This is a 5-step process that makes the acronym, SPEAK, S-P-E-A-K. So, why don’t we just go through this like a high-level overview, and then we could just jump in wherever you want.
So, the S we’ll start with is select a problem to solve. Select a problem to solve. And so, there’s two key questions that every speaker needs to think through. Number one is who do you speak to. And number two, what problem do you solve for that audience? Now, this isn’t exclusive to just speakers. This is true for any type of business, any type of entrepreneur endeavor that you want to do, you got to be clear about who your audience is and what problem you solve.
Now, the challenge here for so many speakers is that we want to make this as broad and vague as possible. And so, who do I speak to? I don’t know. I speak to people. I speak to humans. My message is for everybody. It’s like let’s narrow it down. Okay. I speak to females. That’s still half the world’s population. So, it’s really difficult to narrow it down because we think we need to be able to speak to as many people as possible.
And the same thing is true whenever it comes to what do you speak about or what problem do you solve. So, sometimes, I’ll ask speakers, “What do you speak about?” And they say, “What do you want me to speak about? I can speak about anything. I can speak about entrepreneurship or podcasting or parenting or marriage or family or faith,” or on and on the list goes. And it’s like, but really? Can you speak on all these different things?
And the analogy I always like to use that we tell speakers all the time is that you want to be the steakhouse and not the buffet. The steakhouse and not the buffet, meaning if we were going to eat and we were all going to out for dinner or something that we’re looking for a good steak. We have a choice. We could go to a buffet where steak is one of 100 things that they offer and they’re all mediocre, or we could go to a steakhouse where they do one thing, but they do that one thing really, really well.
So, they don’t do tacos. They don’t do lasagna. They don’t do seafood. They don’t do sushi. They do steak and that’s it. And so, if they’re like, “But we have to appeal to vegetarians.” no, you don’t. You can do one thing and be really, really good at that versus trying to be mediocre at a bunch of things for everybody.
And so, it’s counterintuitive because again, we think that the more topics we can speak about, the more things we can cover, the bigger our audience is, the more opportunities we will have. And that’s not true. The more narrow, the more focused, the more clear you are, the easier it is to actually find and book paid speaking gigs. So, that’s the first part. That’s the really, really foundational part. Because if you get that right, then everything else we’re going to talk about is so much simpler, but it’s just difficult because again, we feel the need to spread the message as far and wide as possible.
So, the next part of the process, the P, is to prepare your talk. Prepare your talk. So, this is where you get really, really clear on what is the solution that you’re providing to the problem that you’re going to be solving. And also, how are you going to do that?
So, that could come in the form of a keynote or workshop, in the form of a breakout or seminar, some type of training, coaching, consulting. There’s a lot of different things you could do there. And also thinking through do you do this in-person? Do you do this virtually, which I’m sure we can talk a little bit about? So, preparing your talk.
The E is to establish yourself as the expert. Establish yourself as the expert. So, two key marketing assets that every speaker needs are you need a website and you need a demo video. Now, a website in this day and age in 2022, if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. It’s hard for people to take you seriously, so it’s important to have a website.
And then, a demo video, some people may be like, “Okay, what do you mean by that?” So, think of a demo video like a movie trailer. Before you would go see a movie, you want to see a movie trailer. You don’t see the whole thing. It’s just like I need to see two or three minutes. And so, in movie trailers, they take a 90-minute movie, a 2-hour movie, they boil it down to 2 or 3 minutes. Within those 2 or 3 minutes, you have an idea of who’s in it, what’s the plot, what’s the theme.
And the goal of a movie trailer and the goal of a demo video is to make you want to see more. Because for an event planner, a decision maker who’s considering hiring you, they’re probably considering hiring you, and then they’re also looking at 3, 4, 5 other speakers who may be a good fit for their event. And so, they don’t have time to watch 30, 60-minute videos of a presentation or a talk. They just need to see a couple minutes to get a sense of who you are, what you talk about, whether or not you’d be a good fit for their particular event.
And so, that’s what a demo video is, something that gives an event planner or decision maker confidence that if they hire you and you show up at their event that you’re going to do a good job for them. So, that’s the E. Establish yourself as the expert.
The A is acquire paid speaking gigs. Now, this is the part that we want fast forward to of just like, “Grant, just tell me how to book gigs.” But if you’re not clear on who you speak to, what’s the problem you solve, you don’t have your marketing assets together, it’s going to be hard to book gigs. So, you want to have these things in place before you get to acquiring your paid speaking gigs.
Now, at this point, we want to do much more of a proactive effort than a reactive effort, meaning some people might make the mistake that, okay, I have my website. I have my demo video. And now, I just sit back and I wait for the phone to ring. And that doesn’t work. Your website may be great. Your mom is thrilled about it. She’s going to tell both of her friends, but nobody else cares. And even just I think the mistakes sometimes speakers make is I post something on social media, and then I just assume people are going to magically find me. That doesn’t work.
So, what we want to do is we want to have a system, a process to reach out to event planners, to decision makers, follow up with them and start conversation with them showing you can provide a solution to a problem that they already have. So, for an event planner, you’re not trying to convince them to hire a speaker. They’re already planning on hiring a speaker. You’re just showing them why you are a good fit for their event.
And then, the last part of the process, K, is know when to scale. Know when to scale, meaning a lot of people who are interested in speaking is also interested in writing a book or coaching or consulting or doing a podcast or doing a course or doing any number of things. And so, you can do all the things, but you can’t do all the things at once. So, some things are going to come first, some things are going to come last. And you got to be really, really clear about how does speaking fit into the mix of what it is that you’re trying to accomplish?
So, again, I know that’s a lot of firehose stuff there I dumped on you, but that’s like the high-level overview of the SPEAK framework that we teach in terms of how you get started as a speaker.
Yeah, no. I think that that was very interesting and it was very high level, but also there’s a process to this and it doesn’t happen overnight. So, I think that that’s really good to know. Before thinking about what I would ask you, where are people playing for speakers and is there a hole in the market of maybe something that you see that’s really wanted, but there’s not a lot of? Just out of curiosity what does that look like?
Yeah. Really good question. So, if we go back to the first part of the process, the S, selecting a problem to solve, there’s seven primary industries that hire speakers. Now, within this, there’s dozens and dozens of subgroups and subcategories. And I’ll give you an example in just a second. But the seven are corporations, associations, faith-based and churches, non-profits, government and military, colleges and universities, and then education like K through 12.
So, again, within that, there’s a ton of different opportunities that exist within all of those. And so, you would be amazed at the number of just groups that have some form of gathering. And sometimes we think of speakers as these large-scale big conferences or events or big keynote type of events, but there are thousands and thousands of events that happen on a daily basis that neither of us have even heard of.
So, let me give you an example. There’s a speaker we worked with recently who came to us. She went through one of our training programs. She was a veterinarian. And she has passion and love for animals. And so, we talked her through the process and here’s what you need to do. And she went through our coaching.
She reaches out. She’s like, “Hey, I just booked my first gig.” And I was like, “That’s awesome. Tell me about the gig.” And she said, she was flying to Vegas to speak. They’re paying her $5,000 to speak at a pet sitting conference. And so, if she’d come to me a few weeks before and said, “Hey, I really want to focus on pet sitting. Do you think there’s a big need there?” I’d be like, “I wouldn’t think so, but maybe.” But know since then, she spoke at that event and has spoken at multiple pet sitting conferences. Now, there’s other animal veterinary related events that she’s done, but all that to say there are so many different opportunities that exist for speakers of all different industries and all different genres and all different subjects and topics.
Now, what you’ll have to be able to find though is what’s the balance between what you’re interested in, what you’re knowledgeable on, what you’re passionate about versus what is it the organizations and groups actually hire speakers to talk about. Just because you’re passionate about something like, “Hey, this is my story. This is something I want to share,” it doesn’t mean necessarily anybody cares. And so, you have to find what is that overlap there between here’s what I’m interested in, but here’s what organizations and groups actually pay for.
Now, to the other part of your original question, as far as what are the needs that maybe exist in the marketplace, maybe underserved type of industry that maybe I should focus on. And one mistake that speakers make sometimes is looking for those angles maybe where speakers aren’t already there, meaning like, okay, I want to speak on the world’s greatest expert on underwater basket weaving. And I’m looking around and I can’t find anybody else who speaks on underwater basket weaving. I‘m going to be first. This is going to be amazing. If nobody’s speaking on that, that’s usually not a good thing.
And so, what you want to find is some pre-established, pre-existing speakers who talk on certain subjects and topics and just prove that there’s a market, there’s an industry and this is something that event planners or decision makers are used to hiring speakers to talk about and to cover.
And so, sometimes speakers will say, “Which of those industries or which of the topics get paid the most for? And where are the most opportunities that exist?” I tend to lean toward let’s focus more on what you’re interested in, what you’re knowledgeable on, what you’re passionate about, where’s your connections, where’s your experience. Let’s start there versus trying to figure out maybe there’s opportunities over there, but it’s something like you’re not really interested in. You’re not really passionate about. You don’t have much knowledge on. You don’t know anything about. You just don’t really care about. That doesn’t work. That doesn’t make sense.
So, I’ll give you a quick example. When I got started speaking as a former youth pastor, I was like I know students well. I want to speak with students. And so, that’s a lot of what I did. I did a ton of school assemblies, spoke at a lot of colleges, did a lot of student leadership conferences and events, spoke multiple times in Utah, where you’re at. And it was awesome.
Now, in the industry lineup there that I walked through, education and speaking to students is typically on the lower scale of compensation of what you could get paid. So, there are times where it’s like, man, I’m a decent speaker. I can probably make more if I talked to any other group. But it’s like I wanted to speak to students. And that’s something I knew I was good at, I was knowledgeable on, and I knew had good connections there and expertise and yada, yada, yada.
And so, even though I could have made more speaking in other places, and I eventually started doing some more with corporations and different other groups, but if I started the journey by saying just like, where are the most opportunities or where can I make the most money or where are the most underserved opportunities where maybe I could fill in? Then I don’t think that’s the best place to get started because I think it’s harder to make progress in that way versus going like, here’s what I know. Here's what I’m knowledgeable on. Now, let’s figure where this fits into the marketplace and the opportunities that already exist.
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I think with any type of business that you start if that passion of the why and who am I and what do I love? If that’s not established, then you’re in trouble because that’s something where you won’t be fulfilled. There won’t be that deep seated idea of this is why I’m here. So, I think that that makes a lot of sense.
So, for someone who’s starting out, let’s say that they’ve decided that they want to talk about how do they find the decision makers? It’s interesting because I’ve done this on the flip side of working with a lot of brands and sponsors and things that I’ve done through influencing online and a lot of times, we go to the PR. You go to the PR or the media releases. That’s the backend or Twitter. So, what do people do for the speaking side of things? How do you get into the right inbox so to speak of who’s email?
Yeah, good question. And so, speaking is very much a momentum business. And so, I think this is true for a lot of things. There’s a friend of mine who always says, “The more you speak, the more you speak,” meaning when you speak, it tends to lead to other opportunities. And so, it leads to someone in the audience saw you or this event planner referred you to someone else or they bring you back for another event in the future. And so, it starts to have a compounding effect over time.
And so, a speaker that is doing quite a few gigs, it’s easier for them to get booked than a speaker who is going from zero to one and just trying to get that first one. So, just getting the ball rolling can feel very difficult. It feels like this uphill battle. But it can absolutely be done.
In fact, I was talking to a student the other day and they had joined a program about ten months ago. And I said, “Talk to me. How are things going for you?” And he said, “Since joining, I’ve booked 40 gigs,” which is crazy. He’s like, “Is that normal?” “No, that’s crazy, man. That’s amazing.” But again, point being he really did work, buckled down, got after it, and has seen results.
And so, to your question where it’s like who do you reach out to? A lot of this comes back to again being really, really clear on who do you speak to and what problem you’re solving. Again, when speakers are like, “I speak to that audience and I speak to that audience and I can talk about this, but I can also talk about that,” then it starts to become this buffet, spray, and pray type of approach.
I’m just going to reach out to a whole bunch of different people and see what sticks. Again, that just doesn’t work versus if you’re really, really clear on, “I speak to this audience and I solve this problem and I’m really clear on this is a need that exists within the marketplace.” This is something that event planners in this space hire speakers to talk about. It’s a lot easier to star to get the ball rolling.
But again, the mistake that the speakers make sometimes is I’m just sitting back and I click my heels together, I close my eyes really tight, and I hope people magically find out about me. So, if you think about, for example, you mentioned when you’ve done some PR work before and some of these brand sponsorships. You can go about it in one of two ways.
You can just maybe put something on your website or maybe mention something on social media and you just hope that the right brands find out about you or we can go talk to those brands and we could reach out to those brands and it’s like start conversations of going, “Hey, I have an audience that you’re trying to reach and let’s talk through different ways that we can work together.”
It’s the same reason of the reason that we’re having this conversation right now is because we reached out and asked, “Hey, are you looking for guests for your podcast?” And so, I mean I could sit back and I really hope Camille finds me in the sea of podcast guests that somehow this all magically works out. Or we can just reach out like, “Hey, you’re looking for podcast guests. I know that you typically don’t have dudes on this, but here’s some different ways.” And I know that you even asked like, “Hey, we don’t have guys on this. So, how do you speak to a female audience?” And so, we talked through what that could look like.
So, the point being is being a lot more proactive rather than reactive and just hoping people magically find out about you, which I know it can be intimidating. That can be daunting. It’s a lot easier just assuming I wish someone would just reach out to me, so I don’t have to reach out to someone else. I totally get that.
I understand that, but I think also comes back to the one thing that we talk with speakers about is, is this a biz or is this a hobby? Because if it’s a hobby, you’re going to put hobby effort into it, but you cannot put hobby effort into it and expect business professional results. It just doesn’t work like that.
It’s like when someone asks sometimes, how long does it take to book a gig or to book 10 gigs or to be able to do this full-time? I like to use the analogy of how long does it take to lose 10 pounds? It depends. For some people, I guess you could lose it in, I don’t know, a couple of days or a week, I don’t know if that’s healthy or not, but I’m sure you can do it. For some people, it may take a month, several months. Some people, the whole year and they didn’t make any progress. But it really comes down to the effort, the energy, the focus, the work that you put into it.
So, this student, this client that I mentioned, who booked 40 gigs in the past 10 months is because he was like, “Hands down, I’m going all in on this. This is what I’m doing,” versus like, “I’m going to dabble in this, but I’m going to dabble in that and we’ll see.” And you’re not booking 40 gigs, but just dabbling and tinkering, which again if you just wanted to dabble and tinker, that’s totally fine, but just make sure your expectations are aligned with if I’m going to dabble and tinker, then in terms of effort, I’m going to get dabble and tinker results out of it. So, I know we covered a lot of ground there. So, I’ll shut up.
No, that was really good. And I’m curious what is that man speaking on that booked the 40? I’m just curious.
Yeah. He’s in the construction industry. And so, he works with construction companies on the systems and processes that they use within their business. Okay. So, this is what we work with speakers on as well is when an event planner or decision maker is hiring you, and this is true for any business, any product or service that you would offer, part of what they’re hiring you for is to stand on the stage and deliver your message, to deliver your talk. But part of what they’re hiring you for is to be really good to work with.
And so, think of this in other contexts, meaning if you go to a restaurant and the food is amazing, it’s just the best food you’ve ever had, but the experience is just a disaster. You got to wait for a long time for your table. The service isn’t that great. They messed up your drink order a few times. The wait staff is the rude. One thing came out cold, but when they brought it back, then it was really good. It didn’t feel like it was priced well. If all these other elements about it are off, then there’s like, man, the food was so good, but I don’t know if I want to go back.
And so, the same thing is true with the speaker. If the speaker is amazing on stage, but they’re a pain in the butt to work with. And by pain in the butt, I don’t mean like they’re a prima donna or they’re a diva, I need my jar of red skittles, or anything like that, but they’re just organized or sloppy. It’s like it requires a lot of follow-ups. They’re not showing up on time to things. They’re dropping the ball on little things. It’s not a great experience.
And so, in this guy’s case, he’s in the construction space, so one of the things they do is work with construction companies who maybe are great at building a house, but you also have to great at just all the elements of not building a house, of following up with your customers or your clients and being professional and doing what you say you’re going to do, those things. And so, he helps them just implement systems for their business.
That’s really cool. I think that that’s a really neat perspective too because I think often, we think that we have to be the best speaker in the world, but there’s other facets that go into it that make you a wonderful person to work with all around. So, I think that that’s really good.
Yeah. Let me pick on that. So, again, you can think back to the restaurant example of just like, the food’s so good, but yeah, but the experience sucks. And you’re just like, I just don’t want to go back or it’s a long wait or whatever it may be. And so, the same thing is true with a speaker. For an event planner who’s bringing in a speaker, the speaker’s one of hundreds if not thousands of moving pieces that they’re trying to work with and juggle.
And so, we always tell speakers, the easier you are to work with, the more likely they’re going to want to be to work with you. You just make their job simpler. And so, if you’re amazing on stage, but you’re a pain in the butt to work with, they don’t want to work with you. They’re really good on stage, but it was just annoying to work with them versus just like if you’re amazing to work with, you can be above mediocre and be super, super successful. And so, being really great to work with off stage is as much about being a speaker as it is what you do.
Yeah. Tell me if you think that there is an it factor for someone being considered an amazing speaker, just on the stage. Is there an it factor or a commonality that you see with speakers that do exceptionally well?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think one of the things that’s great about speakers is there’s not necessarily like here’s the five qualities that every amazing speaker has. Because on one end of the spectrum, you have someone like a Tony Robbins who’s like this larger-than-life personality who bounces all over stage, who’s high energy, who’s loud. And there’s some people who are like, I love it. I totally resonate with that.
But then, on the other end of the spectrum, you have like a Brene Brown, who’s very quiet, who’s soft-spoken, powerful, and strong, but you don’t see her bouncing on the stage or jumping on trampolines or yelling or having everybody clap. And both are effective. Both works.
And so, I think what’s really important is for speakers to be really, really true to themselves and not saying like, “Okay, that speaker is this way, therefore I need to do that or that speaker is really funny, therefore I need to be really funny or that speaker has some tragic overcoming obstacle story, and so I need to come up with own overcoming obstacle story.” Be true to yourself because it’s also important to remember as a speaker, you are a human talking to a collection of other humans. And so, act like a human. Don’t try to be something that you’re not.
One thing that annoys me to no end is when you use a speaker who is overly polished and overly prepared and it feels like they are very, very robotic. And so, it feels like they’re regurgitating a script. And so, then I say this and then I take five steps over here and I do this with my hands. And it’s just like, ugh, it just feels super, super formulaic versus just like you’re a human talking with the rest of us. We’re all humans too. So, act like a human.
Now, that’s not to say, just go up and wing it. Be a human. No, no, you want to be really polished and be prepared and deliver with excellence, but you don’t want to be to the point where it’s just you’re robotic. And so, as far as what is the one it factor or the charisma that you need, I think the most important thing is to be yourself because that’s ultimately what audiences will identify with and resonate with.
Okay. I like that. Any advice for overcoming fear, the moments before you go on or even the idea of putting yourself out there?
Totally, yeah. I think fear’s a normal, natural thing. And so, when I get up and speak, I still feel the same butterflies. And that’s not a bad thing. I think that sometimes, it can be easy to confuse fear with excitement and adrenaline of just the moment that matters. And so, you think about other times where you felt something similar.
I think about for me, when I proposed to my wife or when my daughters were born or if I had a, I don’t know, big job interview, something where you’re just like, dang, I’m feeling those same butterflies. And it’s not that man, I’m going to propose and she’s going to say no or whatever’s going to happen. You just feel like, wow, it’s the body’s way of saying, “Hey, heads up. This is important. This is a big deal.” And so, the same thing is true with speaking.
I think sometimes, just the adrenaline like this is a big deal. I want to make sure that I do well. So, what do you do to make sure that you can minimize that or not necessarily suppress that, but make sure that it doesn’t become debilitating in any way?
And so, one of the best things that you can do is to not only recognize and realize that it’s normal, it’s common, it happens to everybody, it’s okay, but also just to make sure that you spend the time to practice and prepare. The best speakers on the planet, they don’t just get up and wing it. They don’t just scribble some thoughts in a napkin and hop up there and like, “I’m just going to throw some stuff out there and hope that it all works out.”
It doesn’t work like that. They really spend a ton of time going over their material time and time and time again, so by the time they get up on stage, it looks like they may just be making it up, it looks like they’re just rambling, but they’ve really thought about it, they’ve really thought about their word choice, they’ve really practiced and gone through the materials. They’re confident, but they’re not robotic.
And so, a way to think about this is if we think back to high school, college, university, and it’s like taking an exam or a test. You could show up and just be like, yeah, I’m just going to wing it. And the professor or the teacher is going to pas out the quiz or the test or the exam or whatever, you’re probably going to feel nervous and uncomfortable like, I don’t know this stuff. I didn’t prepare and you’re probably going to flunk that test.
And if you show up to a speaking gig and like, I’m just going to wing it. And now, I get up there and quickly realize I don’t know what I’m doing, candidly, I hope you bomb. Because the audience deserve better than that. They deserve you to bring your best versus if you show up to a test or an exam and like, okay, I’m really going to study. I’m going to practice. I’m going to go over my notes. I’m going to review study questions. I’m going to do all of the things.
And so, when you show up, I may still feel the butterflies, but at least I feel a level of confidence that I’ve done the work and I’m ready for this. I may feel nervous, but that’s okay. So, I think one of the best things that any speaker at any level can do is really spend the time to practice because it makes you feel a lot more comfortable and confident to step on stage.
Yeah. That’s really good advice. In our house, we have a coined term that we got from my sister, but it’s you are “nerxcited” like you’re nervous and excited or you’re “anxcieted” which is anxious and excited. And so, when I talk to my kids even about that, I’ll say, “Are you feeling nerxcited? You’re nervous, but you’re excited,” that first day of school or trying out for a new team or whatever it is because I think a lot of times, the language that we use of how am I feeling about this moment can translate into how we will approach and show up in that moment. So, if you’re thinking in your mind, I’m nervous. I’m scared. I’m afraid versus I’m excited, this is challenging, but I’m here for it. I think that anxcited or nerxcited, we need a word like that. So, we use that one. So, you’re free to borrow that.
I think you build confidence over time. The first time you do anything, you’re going to feel nervous. The first podcast interview you do, you may just be like, I don’t want to do it. I feel super nervous or uncomfortable or awkward or whatever, but you do it enough times. And okay, I may still feel some of that going into some of these, but I also know, all right, I’ve done X number of these before and I didn’t die and nothing happened and it’s going to be okay.
So, I think the way you get better as a speaker, the way you get better as a podcaster, the way you get better as a writer is you do it. And sometimes, it goes well and sometimes, it doesn’t. But you build levels of confidence that like, okay, you’ve done this before. You’ve been here before. You didn’t die. It’s going to be okay.
Yeah, I love it. One thing that’s really cool is that you do have a podcast, The Speaker Lab. And if you go to your website, there’s actually a quiz that will tell you how much you should be charging if you want to be a speaker or what you can do. So, I thought that was really fascinating. I did that this morning. And tell our audience a little bit about that where they can find that and also connect with you.
Yeah, with that speaking fee calculator. And so, when people ask, how much should I charge as a speaker? The copout answer is it depends because there’s a lot of variables and factors that go into it. But we put together that speaking fee calculator, it’s totally free. If you go to www.myspeakerfee.com, you answer ten or so questions, multiple choice questions, it’ll spit out a number at you of what you should be charging as a speaker. And it’s much more art than a science, but it gives you a ballpark and gets you going.
And you mentioned The Speaker Lab podcast, so people who listen to this podcast probably listen to other ones. So, if you’re interested in speaking, definitely check out The Speaker Lab podcast. We’ve got over 400 episodes there on all different subjects, topics of speaking, speaking fees, what to speak about, interviewing a lot of speakers and hearing their journeys.
So, yeah, everything else that we do is over at The Speaker Lab. We’ve got a book called The Successful Speaker: Five Steps for Booking Gigs, Getting Paid, and Building Your Platform. And so, that really takes that SPEAK framework we talked about and goes into that a lot further. And so, yeah, there’s a lot of stuff we can do to help and serve and support speakers.
That’s amazing. That’s free content that people can consume. You also have a course too, coaching. Is that right?
Yeah. So, if people go to www.thespeakerlab.com, you can schedule a call just to learn more about that. And so, yeah, you can take the book, the podcast, speaking fee calculator, you can dig into that. But if you want more coaching help, one of the things that we do within our program is we talk about website demo video. We create those for you. We find speaking leads specifically for you. We give you email templates and scripts of here’s what you need to be saying. Here’s how to reach out. Here’s the CRM to use. And so, you can do it on your own. You can go DIY, which is totally fine. A lot of speakers do that. But if you want us to hold your hand and go in the journey with you, then there’s options for that as well.
Grant, this has been amazing. You are a wealth of knowledge and I feel like all the information, it’s been a lot, but it’s been very approachable where it’s like if this is something you want to do, follow these steps and come to your website and your podcast. That is amazing. So, thank you so much for sharing all of your information with us and for being here today.
Thanks so much for letting me be here. This was a ton of fun.
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. I wanted to tell you really quick that I spoke with Grant about women as professional speakers. And he said, “Yes, more than ever, we need more women speakers.” And I was saying, as a mom, it’s hard. How do you get out? How do you set hours that work for you? And he said, “The best thing about becoming a professional speaker is that you get to set the rules for yourself. It’s really like starting your own professional business in that regard. You get to decide if you want to do weekends or only travel within a certain distance from your home or how many weekends out of the years you’d be willing to travel. So, don’t limit yourself into thinking that this is not an option for you, but maybe decide how you want to design your life to work for you in that way.”
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